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Adam Rudolph Go: Organic Guitar Orchestra: Turning Towards the Light

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Guitar orchestras are not all that uncommon around the world, but Adam Rudolph’s ensemble is decidedly unlike any other. For one thing, the 11 musicians who perform on Turning Towards the Light are notable recording artists and bandleaders in their own right, who not only share an inquisitive spirit but clearly communicate on an intuitive level: Rez Abbasi, Damon Banks (on bass guitar), Marco Cappelli, Nels Cline, Liberty Ellman, David Gilmore, Joel Harrison, Jerome Harris (on guitar as well as bass guitar and lap steel), Miles Okazaki, Marvin Sewell and Ken Wessel (on guitar and banjo).

Also setting the ensemble apart is an intriguing repertoire. Devised by Rudolph, the renowned and ceaselessly probing percussionist/orchestrator, the 13 compositions here reveal his lifelong embrace of music worldly and otherworldly, along with echoes of significant influences-Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, et al. Granted, Rudolph’s liner notes toggle between the instructive and inscrutable. (“The orchestra orbits up into a kind of improvisational playing we call VOCUM-Virtuosity of the Collective Us’M. Ambiguous ternary periods appear and swirl.”) But the performances, for all their curious episodes, ultimately seem of a piece, with improvisations and exchanges streaming throughout.

Needless to say, the instrumentation, which includes all manner of effects, makes for resonating weaves and shifting dynamics. The album’s highlights, however, almost always feature inspired pairings. Prime examples include the blues-inflected “Lambent,” which deftly showcases Cline and Gilmore; the semi-acoustic ode “Sol Sistere,” which pairs Cappelli and Okazaki; and the hypnotic excursion “Solar Boat,” copiloted by Abbasi and Harrison.

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